The ballerinas donned candy-colored tutus and squeezed their feet into tapered, reinforced shoes, while the men slid on man-tights and the royal family strutted in plush costumes in the March 10 performance of “The Sleeping Beauty.”
You know the story — a princess pricks her finger on a spindle and sleeps until a prince comes to kiss her. It was the subject of a classic feature film.
The physical activity on stage was intense, yet the dancers appeared unmussed until I saw the deep breathing.
After the princess pricked her finger with the spindle, she danced by herself for a minute. She fell down from the poison, picked herself up and fell again, ending up with her head pointing toward the audience. It was one of the few times I saw a dancer stay on stage after a strenuous solo. They usually scampered off-stage to recover. As she laid there, her chest heaved as she caught her breath. But, amazingly, I never saw sweat on her nor any of the other dancers. Yet, the evidence of the strenuous activity was right there on stage. Is it a conspiracy? I suspect the dancers brought with them a leftover Cold War Era, Russian-made, nuclear-powered sweat remover that they set up backstage.
While I sat watching the dancers leap, land and immediately change direction, I couldn’t help but wonder how great a reality show this troop would make. It’s got it all: Tight clothing, people who are in great shape, a difficult working environment involving the lifting of co-workers above shoulder height and tight quarters.
Think of the thrills, think of the spills. How would a drop in rehearsals affect the bus ride through the American countryside with dozens of other dancers? They didn’t drop anyone in the performance I attended, but I can’t imagine that rehearsals are flawless.
If dropping people isn’t action-packed enough for you, think of all the bloody feet after the show.
MTV has made an industry following good-looking young people who have nothing to say through their everyday life. “The City” is the newest incarnation of good-looking people with tons of money trying to make their lives perfect.
Why not shine that spotlight on struggling artists, who are probably much more high strung? It would make for more emotional fights. If I had a million dollars, a bunch of cameras and could speak Russian, it might be the next big thing.
As my daydream about how I would make a million dollars became more and more far fetched, I found myself back in reality. I found that the dancers did more than jump around on stage. Their movements communicated information — feelings and actions. The more I watched, the more detailed the language became.
The evil fairy, played by a man, who placed the curse on the Princess, used his costume of a long black robe and angry makeup to glide across the stage like an angry vulture. His cape flapped in the wind as he stalked the stage. Every one of his movements told me she was a really bad fairy.
In the scenes set in the King’s court, the nobility sitting on stage watching the performance extended their arms after each dancer finished his or her solo. I’m no ballet expert, but I judged it to be a sign that they approved, as if they were talking with the person next to them about how great it was, or cheering.
Most of the time, I was thinking the same thing.
The familiarity of the story made the ballet much more understandable — although not to the children who left with their family after the first act. Although ballet may be child-safe, it may just be too adult in its sophistication for very little ones to appreciate all of its greatness. But, that is what’s fun about great art, you can read watch or experience it over and over again and learn new things about it each time.
— Neal Timpe is the Features Editor at The Robesonian. Contact him at (910) 272-6149 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.